Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Got Some Time

Time Flies

It appears I must be relaxed.  Today, I actually took the time to complete an online survey.  I thought to myself:  "Wow, what's up with that?"

This week, as the world appears to slow down for a few days before it revs up again, just might be the time to catch up on some old stuff.  You know I can take the time to get my personal stuff in order before the onslaught of must read emails hits me.

Just maybe I can find a way to just look at things differently.  It's been an extended sabbatical but I've been very productive and in the process have managed to lose weight and take care of myself.  Of course, I found new ways of expressing myself with both my camera and with the written word.  The glass was never half empty.  This year I will worry more about the contents of the glass rather than the degree of fullness.

The journey takes me by both familiar and unfamiliar places.  I want to be ready to receive both.  That's the joy of photography, my true passion, I can make time stand still for fractions of time.  If I feel I missed something, I can always go back and look at my images.  In a way, I can double my pleasure and satisfaction.  Its a process that doubles my capacity for pleasure.  I've got time yet to do and be;  my glass is fuller than I thought.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Comfort & Joy

Comfort and Joy

It's Christmas time, a time filled with year end activities:  travel, parties, misguided gifts, check out lines, and lots of food.  This year during all the commotion spend some time with yourself and pause.  Ask, what truly brings you "comfort and joy"?

Family far and near provide me both. Watching my family interact with each other and their pets fills me with immense joy. I realize that no amount of money or electronic toys could surpass the warmth they make me feel.  Even the warmth of the fireplace places a distant third.

The smiles at Christmas are broad and the time spent together is short.  Packages are quickly unwrapped but the memories seem to linger.

Perhaps that's it; the real Christmas secret is to create the memories that provide both comfort and joy.  This season, I wish you both comfort and joy.  Create your memories not only during the season, but also make them all year long.

Someone once told me that true love is not love until its given a way.  To that extent, I wish you the ability to share your love so that you can truly experience it in your lives.  It will endure many things including the physical obstacles we encounter in our bodies and our emotional journey baggage, pain and suffering.  The thoughts of giving love away unconditionally, however, always provide both comfort and joy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas Flames

It's not easy selecting the right image for my Christmas cards.  This year I tried to interject color, travel, season, and spirit.  Without a doubt these Chinese Buddhist candles reflect all four sentiments perfectly and are clearly within the purview of Christmas sentiment.

This year, I worked on keeping my dreams and spirits alive.  There were days my spirits were low and I reached out to you to rekindle my flames.  As strong as I wish to be, I recognize that I shine brightest when I am next to you.  I recognize that together our lights can make a beacon to guide others through the journey of the night.

We must understand journeys of life are comprised of collections of days and nights.  At the onset of darkness there's always the hope of light and day.  Christmas is the season of sharing.  You may think that you have nothing to give or share, but think again, you have your light.  Share it with someone this season.  The beauty of candle light is that it can be shared with other unlit candles at any time.  

There are some that share how God has been great to "them" and they credit God for all kinds of personal victories.  I see this on facebook all the time.  They claim He has selected them and only blessed them with his abundance, as if they had just won the God lotto.  This disturbs me.  I can't think of anything that thousands of unemployed have done to alienate God.  Why would God forsake them?  Did God forget them this season?  There are many that deserve to win the God lotto.  No I believe that God blesses the poor and the poor in spirit.   According to Christian teachings they, not the lucky, will inherit the earth and his Kingdom.   If you really want to win, share your light with those:  the downtrodden, the beat up, the homeless, the sick, the victims, and the unemployed.   "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the Kingdom of God."

Christmas is not about your blessings.  It's about the blessings that you can give others.  Count your blessings and share them with others.  Light the world with your deeds, empathy, and compassion not your smugness.  What a bright place this could be even in the darkest of nights. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don't Forget Your Pets

Nipping at Your Heels

Justin & Charlie
My neighbor, Susan, was inseparable from her golden retriever mix dog, Hobo.  Wherever Susan went there was Hobo.  She was well taken care of and always loved.  There was nothing really special about the mutt but she was an attentive loving companion to a young girl with no brothers or sisters.

Raechel & Daisy
Susan doted on her "Hobo".  In her eyes, there was nothing ordinary about the pooch.  She groomed her all the time and bathed her as if she was a human being.  In some ways, Hobo was better.  She was not judgmental, she was always in great spirits, and eager to please regardless of the elements.

It been over half my life since Hobo lived.  Adolescence and adulthood have gone by.  In my middle age, I think about how she influenced my decisions with my children.  All three of course have their own pets now.  One of my daughters, Justin, never strayed far from the animals she loved.  She works at a veterinary clinic where she administers love to everyone's pets including her own, Charlie.

Aubrey & Ricky
This holiday,  Justin asked if I would take photos of she and her friends along with their extended pet families.  I thought back about Hobo and a little girl neighbor named Susan and I couldn't say no.   How could I say no to three young women and their pets!!!

So to Justin, Raechel, Aubrey and their dogs:  Charlie, Daisy, and Ricky, I would like to say, Merry Christmas.  You and your dogs were excellent models.  I am just glad that I was able to work fast enough to capture the moment for you.  Don't thank me, just thank that mutt named Hobo.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Early Christmas

Keller Christmas

Between you and I, Christmas came early for me.  It came in a most unanticipated nearly year long sabbatical.  Before you roll your eyes and start thinking that I am being sarcastic, please go back through all of my archive blogs.  All of my posts are original musings and photographs.  Nearly 100% of the images were done this year!!  I couldn't have done it without the boot of my former employer.

So yes, my Christmas came early in many forms.  My presents were all wrapped in different wrappers and sizes,  some with bows and some with simply cards.  They came from ten different countries and over three hundred thirty different cities.  Places like:   Anchorage, Alaska; Escondido, California; Melbourne, Australia; Bisbee, Arizona; San Salvador, El Salvador; Dublin, Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; Sluis, Netherlands; Zonhoven, Belgium; Moscow, Russia; San Cristobal de la Laguna, Spain; and Mubai, India.

Old friends and new, you are the reason I write my prose exposés and submit my photographic glimpses of the world.  At times, I write about what I feel and think; other times, I write about what I see or even want to see.  My words and my photos are honest opinions of my journey.

You, the reader, are part of my journey.  You are part of my experience.  We are passengers and reluctant sojourners on a defined trajectory through a moving universe.  Voyagers and voyeurs all in one.

There is one more present that I would like.  If you have enjoyed my blogs, glimpses of my thoughts and feelings, please forward my blog link to people you love.  Share something good with them because there are still lots of things that are right with this world.  Share the journey with someone else.  Encourage them to subscribe, it's the best gift you could give them and possibly the best you could give me.

If you have enjoyed viewing the photos, please don't be shy.  I am a starving artist and would love to make you your own custom print.  Contact me via the blog or on facebook.  I can make custom cards or even print as large as 20"x 30".

Until we meet again...


Friday, December 17, 2010

Cadillac Memories

Vintage Memories
Dallas, TX

At times I get an incredible amount of joy capturing the familiar in an unfamiliar way.  You might say that it appeals to my obsession with details and perfection.  Capturing the details forces me to engage in the reality of the moment.  I connect with the image and I think of all the possibilities the image actually has.  The creative process unharnesses the visual restoration.

Nothing has to be boring.  There is great complexity in simplicity.  Your perspective makes the mundane exciting.  Even in your suffering, you can turn things into pleasure by channeling your talents and drawing from  your imagination.  In the process, you might find a renewed sense of purpose.  You will never know until you try.

I found this shiny hood ornament extremely fascinating.  Before someone restored this 100 year old Cadillac to its original shape, they visualized the Cadillac in all its glory and luster.  It never would have been restored had someone not visualized its potential.  It could still be in a junk yard somewhere, a heap of tin and rust.  

If I could just learn to look past the rust.  I wonder how many opportunities I missed.  One more time, I pick up my camera.  I think and I look through the viewfinder knowing that I have to find my Cadillac.  Looking through the viewfinder is not enough, I've got to press the shutter release.  There's a vintage Cadillac waiting for me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Ho in Keller, TX

It's that time of the year again, where married men avoid their wives, while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.  Yes it's hectic.  The amount of synchronized nesting activities spins the world slightly faster and shortens the days.

This has been an incredible year.  I've had an incredible roller coaster ride and made it to the ER only once!!!  The cool part is that as much as I hate roller coaster rides, I never threw up!!  I handled it all like a grown up, grimaced, and hung on for dear sweet life and not once did I soil or wet my pants.

The fact that my sense of humor remains in tact is a testament to all of my friends both, old and new, who dutifully provided me with their "comfort and joy".  Oh and lest I forget, my wife Kim, who visualizes things that I can't see.  Yes, folks, I have tunnel vision.  (It's very dark where my head is most of the time.)  With her "Moonstruck" gentleness, I am forced to "snap out of it."

While many of my posts have been introspective, I sincerely hope that I've been able to give you an opportunity to take pause and inventory all that is going on around you.  Those of you in proximity to my age, know that the song "Is That all There Is?" keeps playing over and over.

Friends, what it is all about is simply this:  friends, family, and fond memories.  It's all about living and the joy we receive each day from our creativity and from those around us.  Enjoy the season and slow it down.  Feather your nests and most of all love the ones you are with.  Tell them what you truly feel.  Open up your hearts, let go of the fears, and just be you.  You will be better for it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Cascade and Pool
Tannersville, NY

Nature provides an opportunity to renew and refresh.  It affords us the ability to latch on to its own continuum.  There seems to be no beginning and end just a constant flow.  It's a departure from the structure of spreadsheets and from the obsession of planning for the what if.

Going With the Flow
Tannersville, NY
As we observe the order of nature, we begin to comprehend that things will continue.  Time is only finite for our bodies.  We die but life continues.  It will continue all around where we are buried.  Nature and life will go on without us.

If we could learn to channel our energy and connect to its streams, we could in fact piggy back our journey more swiftly and effortlessly.  Instead of fighting the stream, we should learn to harness its energy and enjoy the currents it brings.  In so doing, we could reenergize our lives.

The message is so simple, but it requires a lifetime to comprehend.  Time flows by and the leaves of our lives get caught in the stream.  It would be so much easier for us, if we learned to ride the stream.  We could certainly prolong our journey and venture to places and experiences we might not have otherwise gotten to see or feel.  Letting go and letting the current take us seems so unfamiliar.  Yet it's what nature beckons us to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keep It Simple

Old Barn Window
Near Claverack, NY

We have so much yet we are more stressed than probably any other time in our short history.  It's quite a contradiction.  How could abundance inflict such misery?  Some of the answers might very well lie in the simple constructions found along the New England and upstate New York country side.

'Tis The Gift To Be Simple
There's an inverse correlation between simple structures and complicated lives.  Simpler reduces our cost of living while elaborate structures demand sustainable standards of living.  One demands more than the other but does not necessarily guarantee a proportionate increase in coveted happiness.  In other words, we give up more than we gain. It extolls on the consumer a human property tax.

As I inventory my life, I think of the things that I would keep and what I could live without.  Yes some of my toys and hobbies are expensive, but I could do without lots of other things.  Quite frankly I don't have to consume as much to be happy.

It could very well be that is the reason that I am drawn to the details of simplicity.  My best work tends to reflect very unsophisticated objects.  I allow my eye and lens to focus on small details and I enjoy their simple stories.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In The Beginning There Was Mom...

Mom aka Doña Fina
Approaching 90

You might say that I've been "Moonstruck" by Mom's tenacity and will to live.  She continues to battle a terminal illness called "old age".  To her disbelief, she is approaching 90 in a few months; thanks in part to the incredible doting care my father gives her.

She Still Reigns
Mother is the reigning matriarch of the Rios clan.  She is the queen and very much in control of her home domain.  The kitchen and all the knick knacks she's acquired are all part of her legacy.  She loves to cook and what she can no longer do, she delegates and instructs my sister Lydia to do.

Her Majesty and Loyal Subjects
Before we arrived, my mother and father prepared the turkey in her traditional way.  A three day labor of love and torture for the already slain turkey.  Mother prepared her ingredients of salt, pepper, pimentos, olives, vinegar, and garlic; Dad inflicted more wounds and slits to the turkey.  Thawed and marinated the turkey was ready for a very slow lengthy roast at @ 250 degrees.  The meat simply fell off the bones.

The turkey was only the last step.  Prior to that, she directed and instructed my oldest sister and my father on how to make the pasteles (a Puerto Rican tamale, made of green bananas and stuffed with beef, potato, olives and other goodies all wrapped in either banana leaves or special paper).  Lydia and Dad made over 100 of these.  Each were earmarked for special friends and family.  From her wheel chair, my mother directed the action providing her instructions along the way.

When its my mothers turn to enjoy her final repose, I think I will put some measuring spoons and spices in her casket.  I want her to be happy and most of all I want her to know that I understand all the love that came out of her kitchen.  All in all the lady has done pretty good for someone who once burned oatmeal and didn't know how to cook.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mixed Metaphors

Cell Phone User and Scooters

China on an Escalator
China is a land of mixed metaphors.  It is undergoing a tremendous metamorphosis.  On the one hand are the old scooters and motorcycles, on the other are cars and cell phones.  There is change everywhere.  One only need to set foot inside a mall in Shanghai.

Tell me if you can truly see a difference between us in these frames.  All that I see is the West with Chinese lettering.  To me it is confusing as if something is missing.  What happened to the old China?  Where is it and is it gone forever.

Change is of course an inevitable part of life.  It is a certainty.  What perplexes me is the tradeoff.  What is actually sacrificed in exchange?  I think of places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico where remnants remain of a culture that dominated these islands.  What I am referring to is the tendency that western change makes everything homogenous.  Will China also look like the malls of the US?  If so, then that's a horrible price.

Ultra Modern Shanghai Mall
What distinguishes China is its uniqueness from the West.  In its haste to catch up, it may have just inherited all of our problems along with our debt and pollution.  I hope that the Chinese retain what makes them special.  Homogeneous is a very bland thing.  Trading Mao jackets for denim is not such a great thing.  There's nothing fantastic about losing thousands of years of heritage for the sake of electronic gizmos and hip hop wardrobe.